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CONDOR (2018)

condor_tv_c
 
Full Name: Joe Turner
Codename: Condor
Nationality: American
Organization: CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: Todd Katzberg, Jason Smilovic, Ken Robinson, James Grady
Time Span: 2018 - 2020

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Joe Turner is an analyst for the CIA.
       To quote the blurb from the production company that released his televised adventures:
       "Joe Turner is a young CIA analyst whose idealism is tested when he stumbles onto a terrible but brilliant plan that threatens the lives of millions. Turner is an idealistic millennial who secretly joins the CIA hoping to reform it from within. But when everyone in his office is massacred by professional killers, this brilliant analyst is forced out of his ivory tower think tank and into battle with the most dangerous elements in the military-industrial complex. If he is to have any chance of surviving, Joe will have to do things he never imagined himself capable of - and discover that no one knows their true character until they've been tested under fire."
     Turner who is an idealistic man whose father died while working, he thought, as a diplomat for his country, Turner later learning the elder had in fact been an operative with the CIA who died on a mission. He learns this stunning truth while from his paternal uncle by marriage, the same man who would eventually convince college graduate Turner into following his father into the Agency.
     While Turner is an employee of the CIA and has been one for several years already, it is important to note that above he is in a technical role, not a field operative. More specifically, he helps design and code computer programs to aid in the war against terrorism. He officially works for a company called IEP, owned by and working solely for the Agency, and it was for IEP that two years before the events of the first adventure that he was deeply involved in the creation of a system to "help employees of likely terrorist targets in the Middle East and Europe to help assess the threat potential".
     It will be that computer program which will be the reason for the attack on IEP which will change his life completely while ending those of his fellow workers.


     Joe Turner is, as said, not an agent and he has a major aversion to guns and to hurting people. He is also an extremely intelligent and quick-thinking individual whose brain is constantly firing on all cylinders. For this reason, when a good number of also intelligent and motivated people go after him, he is able to stay one or two steps ahead of them, sometimes just barely but enough to stay alive.


Good Line:
Said by Joe Turner when pressed by his friend to find a new woman to date, "Being in a relationship is like being in a cult. When you're in one, you want everyone else to be in one with you."

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:20
First Appearance:2018
Last Appearance:2020
Network:Audience

REGULAR CAST
Max IronsJoe Turner [ 1-2 ]
William HurtBob Partridge [ 1-2 ]
Leem LubanyGabrielle Joubert [ ]

     Based off the fantastic Six Days of the Condor adventure about a CIA 'reader' named Ronald Malcolm, penned so excellently by James Grady in 1974 and turned into a superb thrilling movie named Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford and other awesome actors, this series came to cable television on the AT&T network Audience in 2018.

     The premise for the television show is similar to that of the original book and even close to the movie but different enough to warrant, IMHO, its own entry rather than just a notation in the other page.
     The first adventure that we have of Condor, real name Joe Turner (as in the movie version) lasts the 10 episodes of Season 1. A second adventure comprised the 10 episodes of Season 2. This second season, delayed by the Covid pandemic, was aired on the Epix premium channel.


[Note: the id's of the directors and writers come from the excellent Wikipedia entry for this series. The plot lines noted in quotations come from the equally excellent IMDB entry.]
1 What Loneliness
Episode 1-1, first aired 06/06/2018
Director: Lawrence Trilling
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg , Ken Robinson

Subtitle: ("What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?" - George Eliot)
Joe Turner and his team at IEP are hailed as heroes for discovering a plot to release a plague virus at a DC stadium. A American covert operative named Fowler was really behind the planned attack and sends a team of assassins to kill Turner and team. Turner is sole escapee.

2 The Solution to All Problems
Episode 1-2, first aired 06/13/2018
Director: Lawrence Trilling
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("Death is the solution to all problems. No man, no problem." - Joseph Stalin)
Contacting his Uncle Bob at the Agency, Joe Turner recounts the attack he barely survives. Bob arranges a meet in a park but the assassins learn of it and show up first, killing Turner's friend and hitting Turner who survives only because of a vest. The CIA releases to the press that Turner is wanted for murder! Seeking a hiding place, Turner goes to the house of a former Tinder data named Kathy.

3 A Good Patriot
Episode 1-3, first aired 06/20/2018
Director: Lawrence Trilling
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("To be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind." - Voltaire)
"News of the massacre at IEP spreads. Bob seeks an ally after learning that he must remove himself from the operation to find Joe. Reuel questions Mae's knowledge of Sam's recent behavior."

4 Trapped in History
Episode 1-4, first aired 06/27/2018
Director: Andrew McCarthy
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them." - James Baldwin)
"With the task force closing in, Joe is forced to flee with Kathy. Marty suspects there may be a mole on her team. Reuel grows concerned about Bob's loyalty. Joe's search for answers leads him to two important people from his past."

5 A Diamond With a Flaw
Episode 1-5, first aired 07/11/2018
Director: Andrew McCarthy
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without" - Confucius)
"Reuel and Marty hope that Caleb Woolf will be the key to Joe's capture. Bob attempts to extract information from Joubert. In Riyadh, a plan is put into motion."

6 No Such Thing
Episode 1-6, first aired 07/18/2018
Director: Kari Skogland
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment." - Hunter S. Thompson)
"Mae is tortured by lingering questions surrounding her husband's death. Caleb tells Joe about his CIA source. Joubert and Boyd cross paths at Kathy's house and make a critical discovery."

7 Within a Dark Wood
Episode 1-7, first aired 07/25/2018
Director: Kari Skogland
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost." - Dante Alighieri)
"Friends gather at Mae's home to comfort her. Iris confides to her that she has information about Alden's work and death. Sharla comes face to face with Joe for the first time. Meanwhile, Mailer gets closer to Mecca."

8 A Question of Compromise
Episode 1-8, first aired 08/01/2018
Director: Andrew McCarthy
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("To be or not to be is not a question of compromise. Either you be or you don't be." - Golda Meir)
"Joe continues piecing evidence together. Bob deploys a capture mission without Reuel's approval. Mae receives intel from Iris about Sam and Elden. Nathan confronts Gareth."

9 Death is the Harvest
Episode 1-9, first aired 08/08/2018
Director: Jason Smilovic
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("Life, life is the tillage, and death is the harvest according." - Walt Whitman)
"Deacon's traumatic past comes into focus. Sharla pursues Joubert. Mae makes a terrifying discovery. After the location of the plot is uncovered, Bob considers his options and Joe compels Janice and Caleb to help him."

10 Mistrust Blossoms
Episode 1-10, first aired 08/15/2018
Director: Jason Smilovic
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("Trust dies but mistrust blossoms" - Sophocles)
"Joe's morality is put to the ultimate test as he attempts to stop the plague from being released."

11 Exile is a Dream
Episode 2-1, first aired 06/09/2020
Director: Andrew McCarthy
Writers: Todd Katzberg, Jason Smilovic

Subtitle: ("Exile is a dream of glorious return." - Salman Rushdie)
"Joe is travelling in Europe when he is approached by a Russian agent, who says he can identify a mole within the CIA in exchange for protection. Joe begins to realize that escaping his old life may be impossible."

12 If It Serves a Greater Good
Episode 2-2, first aired 06/09/2020
Director: Andrew McCarthy
Writer: Michael Oates Palmer

Subtitle: ("Lying is wrong, son, but if it serves a greater good, it's OK." - Aldrich "Rick" Ames)
"Joe makes a new discovery in the hunt for the mole. While surveilling a potential lead, he learns that he is not the only one watching."

13 A Former KGB Man
Episode 2-3, first aired 06/16/2020
Director: Ali Selim
Writer: Daria Polatin

Subtitle: ("There is no such thing as a former KGB man." - Vladimir Putin)
"Joe is lured back into the danger zone when he suspects that Bob's killer and mole may be the same person."

14 Not What He Thinks He Is
Episode 2-4, first aired 06/23/2020
Director: Ali Selim
Writer: Mac Marshall

Subtitle: ("Man is not what he thinks he is, man is what he hides." - André Malraux)
"Reuel gets a nightly visit and realises that he ended up in the middle of an unexpected conflict. Kat defies her own judgment when helping an old friend."

15 Out Of His Exile
Episode 2-5, first aired 06/30/2020
Director: Alexis Ostrander
Writer: Jacob Held

Subtitle: ("Everyone must come out of his exile in his own way." - Martin Buber)
"Joe doubts that Gordon is guilty and continues to search for alternative theories."

16 An Offer Of Enrollment
Episode 2-6, first aired 07/07/2020
Director: Alexis Ostrander
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg, Amy Suto

Subtitle: ("One does not look twice at an offer of enrollment in an elite force." - Kim Philby)
"Mae is haunted by pressing questions about the death of her husband. Caleb tells Joe about his CIA source."

17 A Perspective, Not the Truth
Episode 2-7, first aired 07/14/2020
Director: Rachel Leiterman
Writers: Todd Katzberg, Jason Smilovic, Rachel Pologe

Subtitle: ("Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." - Marcus Aurelius)
"Tracy and Mae decide to go into hiding for a while. Joe has finally found out where Vasili is and works on a reunion."

18 The Road We Take
Episode 2-8, first aired 07/21/2020
Director: Rachel Leiterman
Writers: Todd Katzberg, Jason Smilovic, Daria Polatin

Subtitle: ("We often meet our destiny on the road we take to avoid it." - Jean De La Fontaine)
"Kat witnesses when Volk takes the law into his own hands. Mae's discussions with Senator Thrush have unintended consequences."

19 The Greatest Hazard
Episode 2-9, first aired 07/28/2020
Director: Jason Smilovic
Writers: Todd Katzberg, Jason Smilovic

Subtitle: ("The greatest hazard of all, losing one's self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all." - Søren Kierkegaard)
"Joe runs out of options and is forced to put his loved ones at great risk. Mae makes tough demands on Reuel."

20 Not Necessarily to Lose
Episode 2-10, first aired 08/04/2020
Director: Jason Smilovic
Writers: Jason Smilovic, Todd Katzberg

Subtitle: ("To change is not necessarily to lose one's identity; to change sometimes is to find it." - George Brown Tindall)
"In the final episode, the traitor is revealed to Joe Turner and an old adversary makes a visit to senior CIA operative Reuel Abbott."

MY COMMENTS

     I thought for a long time about whether to include this rendition of Condor in with the original one. Certainly the source material is the same and basic concept of a CIA-affiliated employee being the sole survivor of an attack on his place of work remains the same.
     However so much of this version is different and is, IMHO, so wonderfully crafted, written, acted, and so on that I felt it needed its own entry. Still, I hesitated for a while and then the release of the second season, a second adventure, sealed the deal for me. This Condor was in its own universe with its own set of characters that was unique enough to be on its own.
     I binge-watched the first season and then shortly thereafter did the same for the second. Many a late night resulted because I had to see what happened next. I have big hopes there will be a third season not only because the other two were so good but because (minor spoiler alert here) the second one ended on a cliffhanger.


     One more personal note. In the movie version of the original Condor, the role of the paid assassin, Joubert, was superbly, frighteningly portrayed by Max Von Sydow, making me a huge fan from then on. In this version of Condor, the head of the assassins destroying the work place was a female named Gabrielle Joubert. She was played by Leem Lubany in such an excellent manner that I was not only as in awe of her character, I really hoped that I would see more of her in the future. When you find yourself almost rooting for a cold-blooded killer, well, wow!

GRADE

My Grade: A-

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